The Invisible Library
By Genevieve Cogman
Summary: The first installment of an adventure featuring stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies – think Doctor Who with librarian spies! Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently… Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book. Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own. Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.
Source: I purchased a paperback
The Invisible Library had an awesome premise and the potential to be really great. I think it will be a home run for certain people, but for me, it wasn’t nearly as good as I expected.
I think there are very different types of readers and lovers of books and this book will appeal to some and lose others. I’m not a collector. While I do seek out knowledge and respect those that do, saving books for the sake of having books to research is not a strong enough reason for something like the Library to exist in my opinion. For those who collect books and savor them, or even librarians who wish they could somehow escape into a spy-like type of bookish profession, the Library would be perfectly reasonable for them. The Library itself did not appeal to me as a reader, so I couldn’t help but feel that everything Irene stood for was something I just didn’t get, so I started the story out on the wrong foot.
I did not care much for the characters and perhaps I should have read between the lines more and expected the sort of stiff British steampunk kind of setting, which I admit I don’t always enjoy unless I’m specifically in the mood for it. I found Irene to be stiff and hard to like. Kai was no different, but I feel that if the book was from his perspective, it would have been much more fun. Irene was just too rigid and proper for me to fully appreciate and she was the type of person that other readers and librarians could probably identify with and see a lot of themselves in, so this is just another area where the book tried to grab readers and just failed to pull me in because I’m different.
I did enjoy the adventure in the alternate world and I loved that vampires, werewolves, Fae, and zeppelins were all things that existed. I liked the detective and I liked the bit about Kai that we figured out on their adventure in the alternate world. The adventure itself was fun, but seen through Irene’s eyes, it was slow going and not nearly as much fun as it could have been.
I did not like the rivalry between Irene and Bradamant. Already, Irene was the plain and mouselike librarian that every male character in the story desired, which was eye roll inducing already, so the animosity between Bradamant, a beautiful and ruthless Librarian, was just contrived and over the top. Irene was jealous, but the story sort of made Bradamant out to be this awful character and I would have preferred the story to have taken a “girl power” kind of turn and been positive in that aspect. A unique story such as this one shouldn’t have used so many tropes.
I didn’t care much for The Invisible Library. It was tough to get through and it lacked any sort of real connection for me to feel invested in the story. Had I connected more and seen more of myself through Irene, I would have probably enjoyed the book much more, but it relied too heavily on the reader’s connection with the less adventurous type of character who values books over everything in order to fully appreciate it. Still, the book had its moments and it was fun in many places, so I can’t totally knock it.